Robert Griffin III's playing time in Washington could be over according to new reports today. Just yesterday, Albert Breer was reporting that the plan in Washington was to keep Griffin at #3 on the depth chart and give him the opportunity to earn his way up the depth chart. That could simply mean earn his way to the backup role, because Kirk Cousins seems to be locked in as the starting QB...for now.
1) Where the wheels came off the bus for RGIII. Many folks look at Robert Griffin III's ACL tear in January of 2013 as the turning point for his career with the Washington Redskins. Those who were there actually believe the wheels started spinning off three weeks earlier. Subbing for an injured Griffin, Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns against Cleveland in December 2012, with Mike and Kyle Shanahan rearranging the offense from the Baylor-styled attack they'd built for RGIII into their more traditional scheme. Coaches there then remember Griffin's camp making noise after Cousins' breakout performance that RGIII wanted to be deployed more like Cousins was -- and less as a read-option quarterback. The staff explained to Griffin and Co. that he wasn't near the point he needed to be to play the position that way. Word got back to owner Daniel Snyder. Shanahan explained to Snyder that making Griffin a pro-style passer would be a four-to-five-year process. And after all that, Griffin blew out his knee, had a rough 2013 season to follow, and Shanahan was fired. Snyder stuck by his young quarterback after that, but over time, got the same assessment Shanahan initially gave him from others, like Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan, and it became harder and harder to fight the idea that Griffin was just an incredibly raw prospect. Exacerbating the problem: The fact that, despite RGIII's stated desire to become a better pocket passer (Gruden's harped several times to me how much Griffin needs "reps"), the progress just hasn't come. In fact, to some degree, Griffin actually has regressed as a pocket quarterback. The Redskins are trying to figure out what happened now. Colt McCoy will be the No. 2 quarterback this week. The plan, from there, is to let Griffin try and earn his way back up the depth chart.
Today, Jeff Darlington, who has had a direct connection to Robert Griffin III's camp for a long time is reporting that the plan is to keep Griffin as the 3rd string QB going forward. The reason given is the $16.177 5th-year option that was exercised in April, and the injury guarantee that comes with it. When the option was picked up, Redskins GM Scot McCloughan said, "The risk is very small in picking up Robert Griffin III's 5th year option, and I'm very excited about him"
Things change quickly in the NFL, and whatever real reason the option was picked up has gone out the window. The Redskins invested heavily in Griffin, and Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder especially wanted it to work in Washington, especially after his rookie year. But injuries, needed development time lost, and other factors have derailed that plan, probably for good with the Redskins.
Robert Griffin III was cleared from a concussion on Friday, but coach Jay Gruden declined to name the backup. If active, RGIII will be third in line to play versus the Dolphins.
Darlington added Sunday on NFL Network's GameDay First that Griffin is likely to remain third in the pecking order moving forward.
"After further consideration the team is more likely to keep Griffin as the third quarterback because of the financial repercussions that they would face if Griffin were to enter a game and be injured," Darlington reported.
Jeff Darlington also reports that Griffin spent time this week as a scout team safety in practice...
That question became especially difficult to answer this week based on occurrences during practices when Griffin, according to multiple team sources, was running with the scout team defense as a safety. Yes ... a safety.
If Griffin had suffered an injury while playing safety, the team would be forced to pay him his $16.2 million salary for 2016. Even if Griffin is willing to handle such responsibilities, it begs the question why the Redskins would take such a gamble.
Team sources, however, contend they are keeping Griffin on the roster because of the financial investment they've already made in him for 2015, noting it's impossible to know what turn of events could make him a valuable asset for the Redskins this season.
Ian Rapoport also reported today that the Jets called the Redskins in early August when Geno Smith was punched in the locker room, and his status for the season was unclear. The Jets were interested in acquiring Kirk Cousins, but the Redskins weren't looking to trade him at that point. The trade speculation for Cousins started the second he was drafted, but circumstances have always kept that from happening. Now he is the starter, and Robert Griffin III is 3rd string and waiting to see when this strange trip to Washington comes to an end.
"The Jets did not know how long Geno Smith would be out and they did their due diligence, calling all around the league," said Rapoport. "...The most interesting team they called was the Washington Redskins. I am told the Jets inquired about trading for now-starter Kirk Cousins. The Redskins would not consider it, wouldn't even talk about it. It just wasn't clear why, because at that point RGIII was the starter. But make no mistake the Redskins knew what they had in Kirk Cousins. They would not trade him and they believe he's a big part of their future."